ROLE OF CHRISTIAN RELIGIOUS STUDIES IN MORAL DEVELOPMENT OF STUDENTS IN SELECTED SECONDARY SCHOOLS
Background to the Study
Historically, there has always been a close link between religion and education. For example, the Roman education was rooted in the ideals of the Roman people. It endeavored to shape the youth in such as way that he/she was able to fit in the Roman society (Shiundu and Omulando, 1992). In traditional African communities, initiation ceremonies (like the removal of some teeth, tatooing etc), rituals, beliefs, habits and practices, among others, were both religious and educative in nature. For example, during initiation, blood was left to flow into the soil which was believed to unite the initiate with the ancestors. The pain an initiate experienced during the initiation ceremony and the subsequent instructions during the seclusion period after the initiation were to instill, in the prospective adult, the virtue of endurance during times of hardship while the instructions were to prepare him/her for the adult life.
Education might be said to be concerned, in general, with the formation of character. Certainly it is only in the last hundred years that there has been any serious debate about the legitimacy of the role of the school or college in character education. Indeed for most societies, the purpose of the tribe, community, family and the state, as well therefore as the school “system” when such formally emerged, was to provide an environment for the cultivation of good character and the nourishing of the common good. The range of contexts involved in the formation of character illustrates the over-arching comprehensiveness of the task, its inter-disciplinary nature and the community-wide responsibility for developing an individual’s commitment to the task to be of good character.
Regarding the Nigerian situation, although indigenous education varied from one community to another, the goals were almost the same. Indigenous African Education was for living. It was concerned with the systematic socialization of the young generation into norms, beliefs, collective opinions of the wider society, practical skills and the acquisition of knowledge which was useful to the individual and the society as a whole. Sifuna’s (1990) description of the role of Indigenous African Education has a lot of religious connotation and that is why religion and education could not be separated. The description is a reflection of Mbiti (1969) who, in his book African Religions and Philosophy, expresses the difficulty in trying to define religion in the African context. He says: A man carries his religion everywhere: to the fields when planting seeds; into a funeral ceremony; into a beer party; and if he [she] is a student, into the examination room; or into the House of Parliament. Religion, therefore, indicates total view of life and separation would mean overlooking the dynamics of life. Thus in the African context, religion may be defined as a way of looking at life (p.187) Many countries are trying to maintain religious ideals under the umbrella of what is known as Religious Education (RE), thus in the context of this study, Nigeria Joins the rest of the world to give an education centered on the attainment of the right ideals through Christian Religious Studies (CRS).
Christian Religious Education has been viewed as one of the means to restore moral and social order in the society. For example, after a lengthy description of the moral decay in Nigeria which is portrayed in rampant fraud, evidence of corruption in high and low places, bribery, stealing and robbery with violence, scandalous nepotism and political patronage and abuse of power, excessive materials and general indiscipline, Iheomia (1995) concludes by saying: …in the final analysis what matters most to a nation’s well-being is its spiritual and moral health. Everything else which a nation strives for depends on this…whether it is national integration, political stability, economic development or educational, scientific and technological progress. Nigeria is a nation morally and spiritually sick. A basic aim of moral education in Nigeria schools must be to restore sanity to the nations way of life through the entrenchment in peoples’ psyche such values as honesty, discipline, respect and concern for others, justice and devotion to duty. If formal and direct moral education were to become a regular feature in the curriculum at all levels of educational institutions, it could enable our schools, colleges and universities contribute significantly to the moral health of a nation (p.1).
Statement of the Problem
One of the objectives of Christian religious education and moral education is the inculcation of the right attitude on the individual, through effective instruction based on biblical traditions and examples. Thus students of Christian religious studies are taught the need of respecting their elders and being obedient to instructions. Amidst all of these however, there seems to be an increase on the rate of moral decadence on the part of the young people who leave secondary school and are still in secondary school. These trends have led to increased rate of indecent dressing, dishonesty, drunkenness, armed robbery and truancy. It is against this backdrop therefore, that this study is aimed at investigating the influence of Christian religious studies on the character and moral life of secondary school students in Ethiope East local government area of Delta state and sought to answer this question.
To what extent has the teaching of Christian religious studies in secondary schools influenced character formation?
To guide this study, the following research questions were raised.
- What extent does CRS influence the moral life of secondary school students?
- What is the relationship between the study of Christian religious Studies and the development of self respect in the lives of secondary school students?
- What is the relationship between the study of Christian religious studies and the development of moral virtues amongst secondary school students?
- What is the most influential societal virtue for character formation portrayed in Christian religious studies?
For the sake of this study, the following hypotheses were tested.
- There is no significant relationship between Christian religious studies and the development of self respect amongst secondary school students.
- There is no significant relationship between the study of Christian religious studies and the development of moral virtues.
Purpose of the Study
This study is driven by the following objectives.
- To determine whether Christian religious study have any relationship with the development of self respect amongst secondary school students.
- To determine whether Christian religious studies have any relationship with the development of moral virtues.
- To determine the most influential societal virtue for character formation portrayed in Christian religious studies.
Significance of the Study
The study of moral and religious education is of paramount interest and importance in the maintenance and sustenance of a stable and balanced society. Therefore, this study when completed would be of significance to the entirety of society irrespective of race, colour, social class or religion. The study apart from contributing to the existing literatures in the formation of a morally stable society, the study is at the forefront of evaluating the impact of Christian religious studies in the life of the society. Thus this study will be useful to subject specialists in religious education as it will serve as a means of appraising the extent to which the objectives of their classroom contact has been met. Data generated from this study will act as a point of reference to researchers, government administrators and parents as to identifying alternatives to solving the challenges of moral decadence in our country.
Scope and Delimitation of the Study
This study focuses on the influence of Christian religious studies on the moral and character formation of secondary school students in ethiope east L.G.A. thus the study is limited to a review of literatures on the place of Christian Religious Studies in secondary school curriculum, the concept of moral and character formation, determinants of moral and character formation and an empirical investigation on the influence of CRS on the development of self respect and moral values in the society.
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